Our visit to an orphanage was one of the highlights of our recent trip to the Philippines. I first heard about this place from my friend, Ann, who has been supporting this ministry for many years now. She brought us to Cainta to meet with Mr. Jeff Long, the founder/director of Kids International Ministries, who runs this place along with his wife and children. Jeff and his family have been living in the Philippines for over two decades now. He first came as a teacher at an international school and decided to quit his job to open up an orphanage. Jeff has shared with us a story that since he arrived in the country, he and his family have always give out food to the street kids. And one day as they were eating at McDonald’s, right after they’ve distributed meals to the street children, his oldest daughter asked him,”can’t we do more for this poor kids?” That’s how New Faith Family Children’s Home came into existence. Since then the Long family’s efforts continue in helping Filipinos see God in a tangible way by offering abandoned children/orphans homes, as well as community development which includes building houses, working with schools, sports camps, water projects, and community centers developed to reach a variety of needs for impoverished people in the community.
These two beautiful girls are some of the many children at the orphanage. They said hi to us as soon as they saw us. I asked what their names are, they responded and tried to talk to me with big smiles. As we were leaving and saying goodbye, they gave us the sweetest smile ever! Their story is quite heart-breaking. But the orphanage make sure that these girls, as well as the other girls are protected; that they grow up in a safe environment and live a normal life. We heard a lot of heart-wrenching stories of how these children ended up in the orphanage.
Children come to them for a variety of reasons: some have been brought by their own parents, or by a social worker, or sometimes they were picked up from the streets by one of the staff.
These young American students are doing volunteer work to care for the babies.
Currently, they have 8 infants with 5 full-time Filipino ladies/staff who take care of them. There’s also a handful of American students who help out with the work. They usually stay in the orphanage for a few months but some of them do stay for a year or two. They often go back to the Philippines to work full-time or they continue to visit on a regular basis and/or financially support the ministry.
The orphanage has also established a good educational system for the children, from pre-school to high school. Jeff, as an educator, made it a rule to only have 15 students per class with two teachers.
They have excellent facilities: bedrooms, living/dining rooms, play rooms, etc. for kids of all ages. When we visited we saw some teenagers playing all types of sports and/or simply hanging-out during their lunch break.
They even have a swimming pool and jacuzzi.
New Faith Family Children’s Home is located in a densely populated and extremely poor community in Cainta, Rizal.
These photographs show the type of neighbourhood that the orphanage is located.
The ministry is also helping families in the community to build a proper house that can stand a strong typhoon (as shown below) with US$3,000 budget for each house.
Jeff was explaining to us the work that’s being done.
To feed an army of volunteers, staff and children, there’s 3 huge kitchen with a team of helpers preparing meals all the time.
A Chinese-Filipino who owns a poultry business donates 11 boxes of eggs (each box contains 360 eggs) to the orphanage on a weekly basis. 5 of these boxes are sent to the orphanage in Tacloban City. Jeff started the work in Tacloban right after typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda struck the province of Samar/Leyte. Ann and a handful of her friends supply the rice and milk and other form of ‘love gifts’ to the orphanage. Ann’s driver go there every couple of weeks to bring the supplies.
What started out as an orphanage expanded into a bigger and more broader ministry. It’s now established and registered as a non-profit organisation called “Kids International Ministries.” To meet the needs of kids and their families in the nearby impoverished settlements, the ministry supports a variety of community outreach including Christian education, medical and dental care, livelihood development programs, recreation activities and other evangelical outreach programs. They are supervised by the government through the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), and they get regular visits from social workers to make sure everything is in order.
Five years ago, Josie, Jeff’s oldest daughter, established another work called ‘JAZ Home.’ She opened up a home as a full-time residence of abused young girls. Her goal is to take these girls under her wing and help them break the cycle that is very common for girls living in an impoverished community. Josie tries to keep them in school for a better future. She also makes sure that these girls are feed everyday not just physically but spiritually as well. These kids all come from very rough and unstable homes, some of them were sexually abused, and Josie is mentoring these young girls to overcome whatever traumatic experience they’ve gone through. God has tremendously increased her ministry and she now has other ladies who volunteer to help her do Bible studies and discipleship throughout the week. With christian education along with a lot of hanging-out time for sports and other activities, these kids are pretty much living a relatively normal life. JAZ Home has become a sanctuary of peace for these girls not just in the neighbourhood but also for those who don’t have a home of their own.
The focus of their ministry is pretty straightforward . . . that is, to meet the physical needs of the poor and needy, and at the same time to share with them the Gospel. They are guided by a biblical principle: “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” – James 1:27
Seeing the deplorable condition of people in that neighbourhood and especially meeting those poor kids really did change me forever. We don’t see that kind of poverty in London. People in the west, especially in England, are spiritually destitute but not materially needy people. And in our experience it’s always hard to reach out to these type of people. Not only because of the influence of Marxism/Socialism in the British society after the Second World War, but also because material prosperity keeps the people from realising their need for God. I left the orphanage thinking that if I ever moved back to the Philippines, I’d probably be involved with the same kind of ministry that the Long Family is currently doing. And I’d most likely be doing a volunteer work on a weekly basis at New Faith Family Children’s Home, and try to make a difference in the lives of those children.
You can check out their website: http://www.kidsim.org/ This is a Christian organisation that I’d be happy to support (in prayer or other means), and go back to every time I visit the Philippines.